‘’CLO DEMANDS FULL WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION IN THE OIL SECTOR AND IMPUNITIES BY THE STATE AND ITS ACTORS IN NIGERIA,’’
Being the Text of the Press Conference addressed by the Civil Liberties Organisation(CLO) on the State of Nation , today, September 3, 2012.
‘’The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them without doing anything,’’—Albert Einstein.
Gentlemen of the Press!
We have called this ‘’state of the Nation’’ press conference to be able to respond to some of the grave issues currently threatening our country. As the leading human rights organisation in Nigeria, we have watched the way our society is being hugely mismanaged by certain dishonest and conscienceless politicians and their local and international collaborators and wish to lend our voices to them. The essence is to call the politicians to order before it would be too late and to inspire our people to rise up to the challenges and save our society from total collapse.
Comrades, we are all witnesses to the gross corruption going on in all the sectors of our economy without any serious efforts by the politicians to either redeem the bad situation by bringing the criminals to book to serve as deterrent to others or sanitise the polity and save our ship from wrecking. Of great concern to the CLO is the on-going ear-tingling graft in the oil sector that compelled Nigerians to embark on a nationwide ‘’Occupy Nigeria’’ protest in January, 2012 in which we lost both human and material resources. The protest which was organised and led by the Joint Action Front (JAF), the two labour centres: the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) as well as Save Nigeria Group (SNG) exposed the enormous corruption in not only the execution of the non-existent fuel subsidy funds but also the rot in the entire oil industry.
It will be recalled that in response to that protest, the House of Representatives’, then under a recess, reconvened on a Sunday to discuss the crisis during which time the Farouk Lawan Ad-Hoc committee was set up by the House to probe the corruption in the administration of the fuel subsidy fund. It is sad, however, that Lawan, the hunter, later, turned out to become the hunted.
The Committee report, accordingly, further opened up the cans of worms in the sector and showed how the players in and out of government conspired to plunder, loot and rape our common resources without shame at the expense of the starved majority. All of us passionately followed the drama that trailed the fraud till, recently, when the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) workers threatened to embark on an industrial dispute to drive home its demands for the implementation of its agreement with government; including the payment of subsidies to oil marketers to enable them (the marketers) pay NUPENG members their salaries and other legitimate entitlements.
CLO, in a statement during the period, urged government to respect the agreement it signed with NUPENG by paying marketers who have no questions to answer in order to avert another strike action that could tell on the already exploited and hungry Nigerians. We also demanded a full scale prosecution of all the thieves in the oil sector, including those in government, its agencies and commissions namely PPRA, DPR, NNPC and the Ministry etc which helped the marketers to defraud Nigeria
Unfortunately, government has shown no sign of its genuine willingness or intention to prosecute its officials, including the Oil Minister and her colleagues like the Minister of Finance, the Governor of Central Bank and all other elements who participated in the fraudulent administration of the fuel subsidy funds. What government has rather insisted in doing is to sacrifice the marketers alone and protect dubious government officials and politicians who largely aided those marketers to rape our country and her people; or refuse to sanction and prosecute its own people in order to find an escape route for the oil thieves by charging them to court without genuine evidences to hook them and make the court find them guilty as we have seen in the past, and by so doing, get them freed by the courts and, thus, manipulate us as usual.
Again, it is very important that government investigated the allegation doing its round to the effect that Access Bank PLC, participated in the shoddy transactions of the fuel subsidy deals in which the oil marketers are being prosecuted. In the view of the CLO, all the persons, agencies, institutions and groups which participated in one way or the other in the fraudulent execution of the non-existent fuel subsidy funds that were not even appropriated by the National Assembly in the 2011 national budget should be probed and prosecuted; and, if found guilty by the courts, punished accordingly. CLO is mostly worried by the fact that the chairman of the Presidential Committee on the verification and reconciliation of the subsidy payments, Chief Aig-Imoukhuede, is also said to be the Chairman of Access bank PLC.
Aside the scam in the management of fuel subsidy fund, other monumental corruption rock the oil Ministry. In the midst of all this, government seems not to be interested in investigating, prosecuting and bringing those involved to book. For instance, not long ago, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) and erstwhile President of the West African Bar Association (WABA) made startling revelations about the graft in the oil sector on a Channels television programme. According to Falana;
- Nigeria produces 2.5 million barrels of crude oil daily.
- The current price per barrel of crude of oil stands at $113.
- Nigeria makes (2.5 x $113) $282.5 million daily from crude oil sales.
- Nigeria generates a total monthly income of $8.475 billion from crude oil alone.
- Our yearly proceeds from oil alone stand at $101.7 billion judging from the above.
- The Naira equivalent of the proceeds is $101.7 b x N160 ==N 16.272 trillions per year.
- Nigeria’s 2012 budget is N4.5 trillion.
- The difference between the annual oil income of N 16. 272 trillions and the 2012 budget is =15.267 trillion.
- Now, CLO’s question to the government as Falana equally asked, is; what happens to the over 15 trillion Naira generated from the oil sector alone which was not captured in the 2012 national budget? Where has the amount flown to, or what was it used for?
- And we can go on and on asking questions.
CLO totally rejects this fraudulent process and half-haphazard implementation of the anti-corruption law more-so as it relates to the stinking frauds in the oil & gas industry, and, therefore, demands as follows:-
- That the Federal Government shows seriousness, for once, in the execution of its anti-corruption crusade/law by ensuring that all those who are involved in the oil frauds, be they politicians, workers, oil marketers and institutions or agencies are diligently prosecuted, and if found guilty, be sanctioned in accordance with the provisions of the anti-corruption law.
- That the Minister of Justice & Attorney General of the Federation should save Nigeria and Nigerians further embarrassment and shame by refusing to investigate and prosecute only the oil marketers without including those in government who collaborated with them to plunder Nigeria. This will make it impossible for the government to find an escape route for these thieves using the machinery of the law courts.
- That Mr President and his Economic team should explain to Nigerians, without delay, what happened to the surplus difference between the income generated from oil in 2012 and the 2012 budget as well as other revenues not included in the 2012 budget that were collected by government .
- Why in the face of all these intimidating wealth, Nigerians still go to bed hungry and cannot enjoy
*Free, compulsory and quality education
*Free, but decent housing programme
*Free and quality health services
* Free and safe water/ foods
*Free and efficient transport services
*Quality infrastructural development; and,
*Free tax etc, etc.
2. IMPUNITIES BY THE STATE AND ITS AGENTS OF COERCION.
VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
The CLO has observed with utter dismay, the unabated violation of human rights by both state and non state actors in Nigeria since 1999 Nigeria was restored to civil rule. These violations are witnessed in repressive or law enforcement institutions like the police, Customs & Excise, Immigration, EFCC, politicians
DISOBEDIENCE TO COURT ORDERS.
- THE NSUKKA KILLING CASE.
In 2002, two teenage students of Nsukka High School, Izuchukwu Ayogu and Nnaemeka Ugwuoke were murdered by one Gambo Sarki, the Divisional Police Officer in-charge of Nsukka Urban local government and his evil team for ritual purposes. In 2006, CLO filed a court action against the Nigerian Police on behalf of the victims’ families and obtained a judgment against the Police in favour of the families. The police were asked to pay Five Million (N5,000,000) Naira to the two families as compensation and prosecute Gambo and all other police officers who aided him in the execution of the gruesome act as contained in the Police report. Unfortunately, till date, the police have refused to respect the court order.
- THE CLO EXPERIENCE.
In August, 2009, the Police unlawfully invaded CLO national office, carted away our property and sealed our office for nine months without a court order. The Executive Director of CLO, Comrade, Ibuchukwu Ohabuenyi Ezike, was detained and tortured for a night.
In May, 2010, CLO filed an action against the Nigeria Police at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, and on June 2, 2010, the court, presided over by Hon Justice Charles Archibong, ruled in favour of the Registered Trustees of the Civil Liberties Organisation and Ezike. The court ordered the Nigerian Police return all the CLO property they illicitly carted away from its office and pay the sum of Twenty Five Million (N25, 000, 000) and Two hundred & fifty Thousand (N250,000) Naira to the CLO and Ezike respectively. Two years after, the Police are yet to obey the Order of the Court.
- THE CONTINUED DETENTION OF REV. DAVID UGOLOR.
We are all aware of the continued unlawful detention of Rev David Ugolor for over two weeks now after a Benin high court ordered for his unconditional release. This is a clear case of executive impunity and lawlessness. For a government that is established by the law and which claims to respect the rule of law, human rights and due process to disobey court orders leaves a lot to be deserved.
THE REFUSAL OF RETURN TO OFFICE OF IMO LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHAIRMEN BY GOV. ROCHAS OKOROCHA
We are all aware of the refusal of the Imo state Governor, Mr. Rochas Okorocha, to allow the Imo state local government chairmen who were sacked by the governor without recourse to due process and the rule of law to return to office after a court of competent jurisdiction ordered them back to office. The action of the governor is lawless and an infringement on the rights of the local government chairmen. CLO abhors the attitude of democratic rulers who behave like military dictators and insist that the Federal government must ensure that the rule of law and due process are respected at all times.
CRIMINAL DEMOLITION OF COMMUNITIES BY GOVERNMENT AND DISRESPECT FOR COURT ORDERS
The way and manner civil settlements are illegally evicted and demolished by both Federal and state government in Nigeria without recourse to the rights of the citizens and rule of law has become intolerable. Virtually all the state governments and the Federal government are guilty of this evil act. CLO holds that it is the duty of the state to provide accommodation for the citizens and not vice-versa as has become the tradition among the politicians to demolish people’s settlements for the benefit of the bourgeois class without alternative replacement for the peasant dwellers. CLO has condemned and will continue to condemn these ungodly acts of politicians and calls on all people of good consciences to rise up against this madness and executive lawlessness.
ASSAULTS ON JOURNALISTS AT THE LASUTH.
CLO reiterates its earlier call on the government to fully investigate brutality against the photo journalists at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, (LASUTH), Ikeja, and all other unprovoked brutalities perpetrated against media men and women carrying out their duties in accordance with our laws with the good intention to prosecute the perpetrators no matter how highly or lowly placed and accord justice to the victims.
OUR URGENT APPEAL.
In view of the foregoing, therefore, CLO appeals to President Goodluck Jonathan, the National Assembly, the Attorney General of the Federation & Minister for Justice, the National Human Rights Commission, and the Police Service Commission to rise up to the occasion and ensured that the Inspector General of Police complies, without delay, with the orders of the court in these and other numerous cases and ensured that all the injustices perpetrated against media practitioners and all other Nigerians are justly redressed. We insist that without respect for the rule of law; due process and human rights cannot be said to be respected as claimed by the government.
CLO is concerned about the ugly manner in which our country is seriously drifting, especially with respect to corruption issues that have given rise to other controllable social crises such as insecurity, armed robbery, prostitution and hostage taking or kidnapping. We do not need Prophets and Prophetesses to tell us that corruption among politicians and the lack of will power by the government to deal with the awful situation is widely responsible for these crises. We make bold to say that any government that cannot provide welfare services and guarantee security for its citizens has failed in its constitutional responsibilities.
CLO enjoins all people’s organisations, the progressive students and workers, market women, artisans, and all our people to rise up to these challenges and rescue our country so that we may not be held responsible for the destruction of our own society by Albert Einstein.
Thank you & God bless Nigeria!
Comrade, Ibuchukwu Ohabuenyi Ezike,